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Understanding reasonable accommodations and undue hardship

As discussed on this blog before, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers cannot discriminate against disabled workers in Minneapolis or anywhere else. It also requires employers to provide disabled workers with reasonable accommodations, either in the physical workplace or in the occupation itself, so that the worker can perform his or her job despite his or her disability. Some examples of reasonable accommodations are installing wheelchair ramps, providing a worker with a different desk or modifying the worker's work schedule.

However, there is an exception to the reasonable accommodation requirement. If providing a reasonable accommodation would cause the employer to suffer an undue hardship, then the employer need not provide the reasonable accommodation. An undue hardship, according to the ADA, is hardship that proves significantly difficult or expensive. There are a number of factors to consider when determining whether or not providing a reasonable accommodation would be an undue hardship.

First of all, the nature of the accommodation, as well as the expense involved in it may be considered. The financial resources of the business where the worker is employed and where the accommodation is needed, as well as the impact the accommodation will have on these resources or business operations, may also be considered. How many workers are employed at the business, as well as its overall size and nature, may be considered. Finally, the kinds of operations that would be affected by the accommodation may also be considered.

Keep in mind that there are no uniform standards for an undue hardship, as each employer's and worker's situations are unique. Therefore, if you have a disability and believe your employer needs to provide you with a reasonable accommodation, but your employer is claiming undue hardship, you may want to seek the help you need to understand your rights in this situation and determine what action you can take.

Source: FindLaw, "The Employer's Duty to Accommodate," accessed Sept. 2, 2016

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